Morning Room Ceiling RestorationSee the Morning Room Virtual Tour!
When W.R. Hearst scoured the collections of the old world in search of buried treasure, he often unearthed objects so exquisitely
crafted they had endured for centuries. One of the Castle’s most beautiful artifacts is the 16th century Spanish Mudéjar coffered
ceiling spanning what came to be known as Mr. Hearst’s ‘Morning Room’. A substantial twenty-two feet by forty-five, it is
comprised of five sections divided by large beams with layered corbels, and carved, painted panels between the beams. Its
story languishes, muted, its beauty hidden under an accumulation of almost 500 years of fireplace smoke and candle soot.
Mudéjar art arose from a set of historical circumstances that were unique to the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages.
After 800 years of Moorish occupation, Spanish Christian kings re-conquered the lands of al-Andalus and permitted the
incumbent Muslims to stay, assimilating their religion, language and system of laws into their Christian kingdoms. These
were the Mudéjars, and their advanced culture and exotic blended society gave rise to a new artistic tradition. A link
between two cultures, Mudéjar art became the artistic expression of a complex society in which Muslims, Jews, and
Christians lived side by side: a unique phenomenon in the history of art, as well as the history of peaceful coexistence.
Authentic examples of Mudéjar art are by definition priceless and extremely rare.
Last year we cleaned a small section of the Morning Room ceiling and were stunned to discover under the layers of grime the
most gorgeous, vibrant, gessoed work of art waiting to be restored to its former splendor. Its conservation is an ambitious
undertaking and will take many years. An early estimate of man hours needed for the work is close to 6,000, but without
expert preservation, this ceiling and all the history it stands for will be lost. For a fascinating look into the preservation
efforts at Hearst Castle and to learn how you may become a partner in preservation,
click here to view a printable version of “Uncovering a Treasure.”
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